Last Friday, regulars bid farewell to a local landmark. After eight years operating Cooper's Cafe -- and decades of restaurant responsibilities -- Roger and Kathy King closed down the grill for the last time on Oct. 26.
"We've been doing this a long time and we decided to pursue more personal time together," Kathy said.
The King's purchased the location on US-71B in 2011 and relocated their cafe from Colcord, Okla., to Anderson. Roger and Kathy are both from Seneca and share more than 50 years of collective restaurant experience between them.
Roger has worked in food service since he was 14 when he began his first job at Pizza Hut. Over the next 18 years, he climbed the ladder to management and gained corporate experience. Kathy has worked in food service since she was 10 when she began helping at her family's cafe in Seneca. Since then she's continued working at family-owned "mom and pop" eateries and perfecting some of Cooper's most beloved recipes.
"We pride ourselves on consistency and cleanliness," Roger said.
Cooper's was also well-known for its unparalleled customer service and camaraderie. Roger could often be found at the cash register bartering fresh food for goods or services. He's been known to accept exchanges of local produce, landscaping and, most recently, "for sale" signs.
Roger served as a deputy in Newton County previously and supports local law enforcement officers any chance he can. Anderson Police Department presented the Kings with a certificate of appreciation before Cooper's Cafe closed, thanking them for years of great food, service, friendship and support to law enforcement and first responders serving throughout the county.
When the Kings announced their retirement on Facebook, Officer Miller with the APD shared his testimony of service and support in the comments.
"Cooper's Cafe welcomed us as family. Any officer on duty could walk into Cooper's on an empty stomach, eat as much as we could handle (I mean a full three-course meal) and when we met Roger at the register, he would always say '5 bucks!'" he wrote. "We had an officer deploy overseas and I don't know how many times I got a text or call saying, 'Man I could really go for a Cooper's burger right now!'"
The Kings couldn't ship the deployed officer a burger, but Miller said they managed to show their love and support hundreds of miles away regardless.
"They threw together a goodie basket containing items such as a Cooper's T-shirt, Cooper's mug, their famous hot sauce, candy bars, etc., and mailed it to our deployed officer! We are truly going to miss this place," he said.
As regulars floated in and out of the cafe's license-plate-lined interior on Friday, many asked for mementos in the form of coffee cups and T-shirts, nostalgic items that would go unused otherwise. Each time, Roger obliged with a smile and often a light-hearted joke.
"God blessed us with this place and it just snowballed, but we've enjoyed every minute of it," he said.
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In retirement, the Kings plan to pursue their hobby -- kettle corn. The two have been popping and selling their kettle corn at local events for 23 years and don't plan to stop any time soon.
Ol' King Korn is scheduled to vend at upcoming events throughout the tri-state area.
In addition to classic kettle corn, the Kings also pop a number of flavored corn varieties, including sweet and salty, caramel, and caramel apple. Depending on the season or event, they also vend blue raspberry, cinnamon and peppermint corn. And one flavor called "nuclear" that Roger described as "ridiculously hot."
"It's sweet, then it's hot," he said with a sly grin. "We have to pop it at home because it's like pepper spray in the air when it's popping."
Before the Kings retire to Ol' King Korn, they must first liquidate Cooper's Cafe.
"Everything is going to auction," Roger said.
That includes the furniture, appliances and all the antiques that decorate the walls.
The building will be listed for sale, and the iconic "cheese car" will be put up for sale as well. The only things not for sale are the highly-savored family recipes that make some of Cooper's Cafe's most renowned dishes, like Kathy's famous cinnamon rolls and pancakes.
The auction will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 5, at Cooper's Cafe, 810 N. Highway 71, Anderson.Community on 11/01/2018
Print Headline: Cooper's Cafe closes, auction set